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-   -   Late but interesting... (http://www.steamboats.org/forum/steamboats-history/3618-late-but-interesting.html)

ed frazier 06-03-2010 07:31 PM

Late but interesting...
 
Check these sites stories out. makes for thoughtfull reading and gives one cause to ponder. [url=http://www.searchamelia.com/2010/05/26/1m-to-save-mississippi-queen-from-scrapyard/]Mississippi Queen is in the New Orleans Scrapyard[/url] and this site, [url=http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyharnden/100003177/end-of-a-way-of-life-on-the-mississippi-river/]End of a way of life on the Mississippi river – Telegraph Blogs[/url]. I don't know the extent of the stories but, take what you will from them. At least they give a good yarn.

Jim Reising 06-06-2010 10:25 AM

That's what I've been saying for years now....why not here? River travel is growing by leaps and bounds in other parts of the world but it has disappeared completely from the Western Rivers of North America. In another thread an article said the QOW was about booked up for this season and things were looking good for next season. Why can't that happen on the Mississippi River system?

Jim Blum 06-06-2010 02:54 PM

When the MQ was new Betty Blake was actively courting European TRAVEL AGENTS. That activity brought quite a few customers [to both boats] who were amazed at the vastness of the USA & the Mississippi River system. This still being a Cold War Era there was even less of a potential Market than exists today.

From what I have read on this Message Board over the last couple years the previous owner(s) [DQ, MQ & AQ] apparently seemed to neglect cultivating the Travel Agent(s).

Paul Penta 06-06-2010 08:04 PM

[QUOTE=Jim Reising;21853]That's what I've been saying for years now....why not here? River travel is growing by leaps and bounds in other parts of the world but it has disappeared completely from the Western Rivers of North America. In another thread an article said the QOW was about booked up for this season and things were looking good for next season. Why can't that happen on the Mississippi River system?[/QUOTE]

Jim, a couple of thoughts.

If the QOW does well, there's reason to be optimistic about the Mississippi Rivers. We took a very hard hit and it will still take a while to rebound.

Second, in researching the ACL site, out of curiosity, about employment. They are looking for a Cruise Director out west, suggesting that they haven't hired the two they will certainly need. Among the several expectations they have for a CD is to exceed the expectations of their affluent pax base. That's the word they used - affluent. I believe someone here quoted a price of 5k per person per week on the QOW. "Affluent" pax apparently were just waiting for a chance to get back on the river, but I have a feeling there may not be enough of them to support the 460 folks it would take to fill the AQ. Maybe there are, who knows. The Windstar boats seem to be doing well, and they are also "up there", suggesting to me that the days of regular DQSC frequent floaters may have to wait a while longer for a return to the old days.

Paul

ed frazier 06-07-2010 07:13 AM

No wonder they went belly up.
 
At that price I could go to China to see and enjoy a river cruise for two months. Plane tickets included. With prices like these it is easy to see why they don't have boats running. Why would anyone pay that kind of price, when they can cruise almost anywhere in the world cheaper. The towns along Americas rivers are not what the affluent would enjoy, in fact they might be afraid to leave the boat in some of them. If these companies would rethink their prices to include the average traveler they could keep the boats full. Plus, the average traveler will enjoy and understand the local towns along the rivers. I don't umderstand how ACL thinks, why limit your potential momey source?

Judy Patsch 06-07-2010 07:34 AM

River towns
 
Ed, I believe you've said you never rode any of the QUEENS - that is pretty obvious in your comment about the affluent not wanting to visit the rivertowns and that they might be afraid to leave the boat at some - HOGWASH! There is no Louvre or Rodeo Drive or Smithsonian along the way, but passengers of all means enjoyed the quaint down to earth towns and larger cities along the way. And I never met anyone of any financial means who was afraid to leave the boat. You are right on about the prices and how people go elsewhere for less money, but this perception you have about the rivertowns is pure bunk, sorry.
Betty Blake and her crowd came up with the wonderful slogan, Voyages to America, and that's what the QUEENS gave us. TO, not from.

Bob Reynolds 06-07-2010 08:25 AM

Amen, Judy. As we old-timers have mentioned several times in the past (and I still refuse to believe it is not true), Betty and Muster knew what they were doing when it came to marketing the boats. Like anything else, though, it is WORK. Cultivate travel agents, have a "Don Deming" to travel and promote the boats, get the mainstream press on your side.

Pricing for the American steamboats has never been cheap. Jim Reising wonders in another thread about why this country cannot support boats while other countries can. I think the reasons are several: First, many people don't think in terms of "American" when they think of a cruise, or think that a European or Chinese cruise would be more exotic. Second, the boats here are all-American -- built here, inspected here, crewed by Americans. Between what Americans expect to be paid (whether it be boat crews, shipyard workers, etc.) and the laws that are in place here (limited work hours, licensing issues, etc.) costs are simply more expensive here.

Obviously the company(s) made money in the past, at least at times, since they decided the market was there to build and operate more boats. Greed was certainly a factor in this latest way of operating, pricing, etc., but even not knowing much about the business end of things, I see that to make a profit they must have to charge higher prices than competitors from other countries.

I still think marketing is the key. During WWII, Tom Greene marketed the GCG to those who had money to travel but could not go overseas. He was so successful he had to buy the DQ to meet the demands of the public. Betty and Muster marketed the boat to middle America in many ways, and the DELTA QUEEN became world famous. Of course they never turned down "affluent" passengers, but tried to make riding the boat an attainable dream for middle-class folks. Looks to me like it worked until people forgot that strategy.

Judy Patsch 06-07-2010 09:19 AM

Marketing yes!
 
You've hit on several key points Bob. For anyone who has ever taken a Caribbean cruise: in what country was your ship registered? It sure wasn't the US. And how many of the crew were American or who spoke fluent English(total crew, not just the ones who dealt directly with passengers)?
Betty still had the tramp excursion boat hustle in her when she came to the DQ and she knew how to reach people - whether to ride or to support the exemption fight. The Greene Line boats were geared to the middle class, but took wealthier without a problem. The mega-companies which owned the QUEENS in the last couple of decades geared their 'product' to the upper incomes, stressing the infamous bathrobes, plush bedding, etc, rather than the cruising Americana aspects. In aiming at that higher income, they had no qualms in jacking the prices up, knowing they would be affordable to their target population. Unfortunately, they wiped out their loyal base of lower income passengers - you never could be poor to ride a Greene Line boat, but you didn't have to be in the top income bracket. DQ Company at one time had the highest percentage of repeat passengers of all cruise lines -what a great base to start a season with. But this was perceived as a negative by our recent ownerships. So Americans think of cruises in China or Europe as more exotic than one in the US? How about turning the tables? A person in China or Germany might think an American river cruise would be more exotic than one in their own country, no? And guess where the leisure spending money is now? If the NATCHEZ didn't have foreign passengers, her income would be drastically reduced. There are some trips I wonder why I narrate in English since it seems more than half the riders are speaking in other tongues. Why didn't the QUEENS have more foreign passengers? Ask Franz and Carmen! If they didn't have Phyllis to book them, they wouldn't have had access to the boats. The QUEENS' ownership didn't cultivate foreign relationships - and as I recall, in the latter years didn't do a heck of a lot in befriending American TAs either. [B] Here's a question for our readers: most of us posters knew about the boats[B] because we live on the rivers. But if you don't live on the river, how did YOU find out about the DQ, MQ, or AQ????[/B][/B]

Lexie Palmore 06-07-2010 11:20 AM

I was decoupaging something at a camp in the hill country of Texas in 1966, where I was one of the counselors. This means I was going through magazines and cutting out pictures to glue onto something. I was working through a Time magazine and saw this tiny little ad for the Delta Queen. I cut it out and kept it so that some day, when I got old, I could do that. A few years after later, the Safety At Sea thing blew up and it was all over the news. It's called ADVERTISING & PR, baby. As they say, there is no such thing as bad PR. However, anything that smacks of luxury these days is frowned upon. Those who still have gobs of money, and plenty do, are keeping it low key. But, this has not lessened the cutesy cruise ship advertising, which goes nauseatingly on and on. They can keep going by offering middle class fares and paying their third world country crew less and less. You can't do that in the old US of A, except to eliminate the money ******* egotistical CEOs with the brains of a chicken. But realistically, is that going to happen? Well, I kind of got off the track and on to my soap box, but that's my story. Look forward to other answers to your question.

Lexie Palmore 06-07-2010 11:23 AM

Well I see one of my key words got bleeped. Lets try the word "overpaid".


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